Army Corps Defends Enbridge Energy Minnesota Pipeline Review

June 24, 2021, 4:12 PM

The Army Corps of Engineers told a Washington, D.C., federal court that it did its diligence on the impacts of Enbridge Energy’s Minnesota pipeline project on the climate, wetlands, and low-income communities.

Air quality and greenhouse gas emissions impacts would be “negligible to minor,” according to the agency’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The large majority of the project’s wetland impacts will be temporary, the Corps said in its Wednesday filing, and mitigation will help “compensate for the small amount of loss of aquatic resource function.”

Environmental and tribal groups argue the Corps’ review of the project violates the National Environmental Policy Act and Clean Water Act. The lawsuit centers on various permits and authorizations for the project to replace Line 3 of the pipeline, which has a “large number of identified pipe defects and anomalies.”

The Corps said it considered a reasonable range of alternatives, and it considered the impacts to tribal rights to hunt, fish, and gather natural resources.

Most of the group’s arguments are “recycled versions” of the same claims rejected by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, Enbridge Energy told the federal court Tuesday.

The court found the state properly studied the risk of oil spills and potential alternatives. Now the groups ask the District of Columbia to order the Corps to redo the state’s work, but the agency’s regulations don’t require that type of duplication, according to Enbridge.

Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director, said in a statement Thursday the Army Corps’ filing was a “missed opportunity to break with the Trump administration’s pro-polluter agenda.”

“Allowing Line 3 to move forward is, at best, inconsistent with the bold promises on climate and environmental justice President Biden campaigned and was elected on,” Brune said.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly oversees the case.

The Justice Department represents the federal government. Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP represents Enbridge as intervenor defendant.

Environmental Law & Policy Center represents Friends of the Headwaters. Earthjustice represents the tribes and remaining environmental groups.

The Sierra Club has received funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg Law is operated by entities controlled by Michael Bloomberg.

The case is Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. Army Corps of Eng’rs, D.D.C., No. 1:20-cv-03817, 6/23/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maya Earls in Washington at mearls@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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